Bahrain security forces are detaining children without cause and "subject[ing] them to ill-treatment that may rise to the level of torture," according to a report released Sunday by Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website]. Bahrain is specifically accused [press release] of violating the Convention on the Rights of the Child [text], ratified by Bahrain in 1992, by failing to protect children from "ill-treatment" and torture, separate them from adults in detention, and providing access to legal assistance. HRW concluded its report with the recommendation that Bahrain conduct investigations into allegations of torture and cease its widespread detention of children and only detain anyone under 18 as a last resort.
Bahrain has faced civil unrest as Shiite-led protesters seek political empowerment in the Sunni-ruled country. In July the Bahrain National Assembly [BBC backgrounder] approved laws [JURIST report] increasing penalties for those who commit or incite terrorism as an effort to half the "dangerous escalation" of unrest and political tensions. Earlier that month 29 protesters were sentenced to one month in prison [JURIST report] for entering Pearl Square, the heavily fortified area that was once the center of Bahrain's anti-government uprising. Last month three protesters were sentenced to imprisonment [JURIST report] for taking party in anti-government protests as well as attempting to kill a police officer. In May a Bahrain court sentenced six individuals [JURIST report] to a year in prison for insulting King Hamad via Twitter. Also in May a Bahrain court issued 15-year prison sentences [JURIST report] to 31 protesters for their role in firebomb attacks as part of anti-government protests.